The infant universeAn all-sky picture of the infant universe revealing 13.77 billion-year-old temperature fluctuations (shown as color differences) that correspond to the seeds that grew to become the galaxies. (Credit: NASA/WMAP Science Team)

Astrophysics is a branch of astronomy that explores the physical properties of the cosmos and its composition. Astrophysicists study a broad range of topics, from the tiniest particles of matter and the forces that join them together to the grandest of celestial structures. In essence, astrophysics extends the workings of physics and chemistry that we experience directly here on Earth into the vastness of space. It is both an observational and theoretical science. To probe the universe's past, present and future, astrophysicists have built some of the most complex and precise machines in the world, including terrestrial and space-based telescopes tuned to various wavelengths. The continued seeking of new discoveries is constantly pushing the limits of telescope and model-building technology. 

Spotlight Live: Coming Face to Face with an Asteroid

Sep 07, 2016

On September 27, scientists Richard Binzel, Beth Ellen Clark and Bashar Rizk discussed NASA's newly launched OSIRIS-REx asteroid-sampling mission and what it could reveal about life and death in the Solar System.    

2016 Kavli Prize in Astrophysics: A Discussion with Kip Thorne and Rainer Weiss

Two black holes merging
Aug 15, 2016

Two winners of the 2016 Kavli Prize in Astrophysics, Kip S. Thorne and Rainer Weiss, discuss the impact of discovering gravitational waves with the enormous detector they spent more than 40 years developing.

Galactic 'Gold Mine' Explains the Origin of Nature's Heaviest Elements

Neutron star collision
May 10, 2016

Three astrophysicists—Anna Frebel, Alexander Ji and Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz—discuss the answer to a 60-year-old cosmic mystery: the origin of some of the most precious elements in the universe.

The Origin of Worlds: Astrophysicists Zero in on How Planets Form

Feb 24, 2016

Three planetary formation experts — Kate Follette, Bruce Macintosh and Ruth Murray-Clay — joined a roundtable discussion on new ways of studying how planets form and whether they can explain the rise of our Solar System.

Ripple Effect: Gravitational Waves Begin to Reveal a Hidden Universe

A visualization of a supercomputer simulation of merging black holes sending out gravitational waves. (Credit: NASA/C. Henze)
Feb 11, 2016

Three principal researchers at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)—Nergis Mavalvala, Rainer Weiss and Matthew Evans—reflect on the epic discovery of gravitational waves and how it will transform the way we see the cosmos.

Crowdsourcing the Universe: How Citizen Scientists are Driving Discovery

Gravitational lenses
Jan 13, 2016

Legions of volunteer, 'citizen scientists' are training their eyes on the sky and sharing in the thrill of discovery. In this Kavli roundtable, Citizen science leader Chris Lintott joins Anupreeta More and Aprajita Verma of the Space Warps project to discuss the exciting endeavor.

Getting Up Close and Personal with an Earth-Sized Exoplanet

Transiting exoplanet
Nov 09, 2015

A newfound alien world orbiting a small, nearby star could be one of the first exoplanets scientists get to investigate in detail. Two of the astronomers who made the discovery—MKI's Zachory Berta-Thompson and Elisabeth Newton–discuss what they might encounter there with Rory Barnes from the University of Washington.

Spotlight Live: Searching for Alien Life with a "Super-Hubble" Space Telescope (Transcript)

Milky Way
Nov 05, 2015

On October 6, The Kavli Foundation hosted a Google+ Hangout to learn more about proposed High Definition Space Telescope, a kind of "Super Hubble" that could launch in the 2030s. We spoke with two of the proponents: Julianne Dalcanton of the University of Washington and Marc Postman of the Space Telescope Science Institute. This is a transcript of that discussion.

Captured at Last: The Tiny Stars that Spark Fierce Supernovae Explosions

Type 1a Supernova
Aug 17, 2015

We finally know the ingredients that fire up a particular kind of supernova. Four researchers - Lars Bildsten, Laura Chomiuk, Daniel Kasen and Andrew Howell - explain why a better understanding of how certain stars die can help reveal the evolution of the cosmos.

Spotlight Live: Pluto Revealed - The Historic Voyage of New Horizons

New Horizons
Aug 13, 2015

On July 14, the New Horizons spacecraft passed Pluto after a 3-billion-mile journey. New Horizons team members Richard Binzel and Cathy Olkin, and Kavli Prize Laureate Mike Brown answer questions about the mechanisms that might be shaping Pluto's dramatic landscape and what this strange new world can tell us about the other bodies at the Solar System's fringes.


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